In its most general form, a playlist
is simply a
list of songs
. The term has several specialized
meanings in the realms of radio broadcasting
and personal computers
The term originally came about in the early days of top 40 radio formats
stations would devise (and, eventually, publish) a limited list of
songs to be played. The term would go on to refer to the entire
catalog of songs that a given radio station (of any format) would
draw from. Additionally, the term was used to refer to an ordered
list of songs played during a given time period. Playlists are
often adjusted based on time of day, known as dayparting
storage and playback using personal
computers became common, the term playlist was adopted by various
programs intended to organize and
control music on a PC. Such playlists may be defined, stored, and
selected to run either in sequence
or, if a
random playlist function is selected, in a random order. Playlists'
uses include allowing a particular desired musical atmosphere to be
created and maintained without constant user interaction, or to
allow a variety of different styles of music be played, again
Some websites allow categorization, editing, and listening of
playlists online, such as Project
. Other sites
such as Musicmobs
focus on playlist
creation aided by personalized song recommendations, ratings and
reviews. On certain sites, users create and share annotated
playlists, giving visitors the option to read contextual
information or reviewer comments about each song while listening.
Some sites only allow the sharing of the playlist data with the
actual music being delivered by other channels e.g. plurn
, others provide a closed catalog of content from
which the playlists can be generated while sites like imeem
allow users to upload the music to central
servers to be shared and accessed by any user of the site.
A list of
songs prepared by a celebrity and
represented on the Apple iTunes Store as such, is referred to as a
This has become popular because a
of a particular celebrity may
have an affinity towards the celebrity's choice of music. This
arms-length connection between the fan and the favored celebrity
has become so popular (2004-2005) that "celebrity playlist" has
become a part of recent vocabulary.
Shuffle mode playlists
Sometimes playlists are devised for the sake of curbing shuffle play
to music that fits in better with
the setting (e.g. party, dance, etc.).
Other playlist methods
- A CD player that holds multiple CDs with a programmable grid
- MP3 CDs
- Prerecording a mixtape; which is purely
- Active disc-jockeying where the user manually selects the next
song one after another as opposed to a preprogrammed playlist
(shuffled or not).
- A jukebox with a programmable vinyl
Types of playlist files
There are several types of playlists. Some of the most common are:
- .asx, an XML style
playlist containing more information about the items on the
- .bio, a text-based list
of items, with each item on a new line. Each item represents the
full path to the file.
- .m3u, a simple text-based list of the
locations of the items, with each item on a new line.
- PLC, file extension for AIMP2 media player
- .pls, a text playlist similar to .ini (program settings) files. It normally contains
only the location of the items in the playlist.
- .smil is an XML
recommendation of the World
Wide Web Consortium that includes playlist features. In
addition to audio, it supports video and screen layout and is
heavily used in Digital
- Kalliope PlayList (.kpl) is a
kind of XML playlist storing developed to speed up loading and
- .pla, Samsung format(?), binary, Winamp
- XSPF, an XML
format designed to enable playlist sharing.
- VLC is a format used by VLC Media Player.
- WPL is an XML format used in Microsoft Windows
Media Player versions 9–11.
- ZPL is an format used by Zoom Player and Creative Zen Media Players.
- FPL is a format used by Foobar2000.